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Neponset Greenway trail again denied US funding

The Neponset Greenway trail has again been denied federal funds to complete three unfinished sections of the path that stretches from Boston Harbor to the Blue Hills.

This is the second time the project, a partnership between the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and other local groups, was denied funding by the US Department of Transportation.

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The federal money would have been used to complete unfinished sections of the trail in Dorchester, Mattapan/Milton, and Hyde Park. The DCR has allocated $2.5 million of its own funds to match the $12.4 million it was seeking from the DOT.

The federal agency did not give a reason for denying the grant.

“It’s very disappointing. We know it’s a competitive program, but we believed we had a great proposal,” said DCR Commissioner Edward Lambert. “We’re going to continue to advance the ball and get it funded.”

The grant denial was first reported in the Dorchester Reporter.

Questions remain about how the project could get funded, and Lambert said his organization will be looking at creative ways to fill in the missing segments.

“I think we’re open to all sources, but we also recognized that DCR and the MBTA are strapped for cash,” said Lambert.

The segments could be broken up into separate projects, he said, though that is not the preferred step and not as cost-effective.

Although the rejection was disappointing, Lambert said he believes that going through the process twice has been beneficial.

“We are in a better place today before we put these applications in,” he said. “I think the application process has focused our efforts and created a clearer vision.”

In Dorchester, the money would have been used to complete a portion of the trail to allow residents to bypass the Interstate 93 off-ramp at Morrissey Boulevard. DCR plans to build a raised boardwalk over property owned by National Grid. DCR estimated in 2011 that it would cost about $6 million to complete the Dorchester section of the trail.

In the Mattapan/Milton section, the most expensive of the three segments estimated in 2011 to cost more than $10 million, DCR still needs to complete 1.5 miles of trail. DCR proposed to build a bridge that would connect the Mattapan and Milton communities as well as a bridge that would help residents cross over the Mattapan trolley tracks and connect it to the lower section of the corridor.

The money for the Hyde Park section, the smallest of the three sections, would fill in the trail near the Martini Shell on Truman Parkway, with a half-mile off-street route for bikes and pedestrians as well as improved on-street routes for bikes. DCR estimated in 2011 that the section would cost about $2 million to complete.

For more information about the project, visit DCR’s project page.

Patrick D. Rosso

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